The internet is all agog today, as a Denver Nuggets site polled readers about their favorite Nuggets players in all of history, but didn’t include Carmelo Anthony in their cover photo. Not only are Blazers fans objecting to the omission, they’re revealing their own favorite players in franchise history.
Today Dave and Dia will dive into their own, personal histories with the team, answering the “favorite player” question themselves, and more! Feel free to do so yourselves in the comments.
Dave: Before we dig into GOATs and such, let’s rewind to the start. This is a question we’ve all been burning to ask. I’m sure it’ll bring out similar stories in all of us. People love your passion and positive spin on the franchise. How did you get to be a Blazers fan in the first place? Where did this all start?
Dia: I was born into It. That’s the short version. My parents grew up in the Portland area and my grandparents were season ticket holders. I was born into a family of Trail Blazer fans. I remember watching the games as a kid at home, or with friends. Occasionally I would have the opportunity to go to the Colosseum and then eventually the Rose Garden. It was something that was just established so early on and so strongly. I remember distinctly things like the Clyde Drexler Wheaties box in the living room, my dad’s black satin Blazer jacket, the birthday gifts of Trail Blazers gear. There was really no avoiding It for me.
Dave: My story is similar, although my dad wasn’t a die hard fan or anything. When the Blazers did well, they were fun to watch. I picked it up through osmosis. Eventually I came to love them WAY more than he did. He used to cluck every once in a while at my obsession with them. Can’t do much with that in life. Nobody could have anticipated things like the internet, websites, or online forums where specialty passions would give rise to sustainable communities. I ended up doing a little something with it.
I loved those Drexler teams. They were really the first I could call “mine”. The heartache of not winning it all still lingers. Oh my gosh, though. Clyde and Jerome and Terry...what incredible joy they brought every time they took the floor. That was GOOD basketball. Dominant. You knew you were going to see something, and there was a non-zero chance it would be spectacular. I never regretted a moment spent watching those teams.
So is Clyde still your all-time fave?
Dia: As It turns out, I’m a bigger Blazer fan than my dad now. When we moved to LA he became a Lakers fan. I sure didn’t see that coming! Thankfully, moving to LA didn’t deter my fandom, in fact I think It just set It on fire.
Clyde was absolutely my favorite as a kid. I grew up in the 80s and 90s so that’s the team that made me fall in love with the Blazers. I’ve written in previous pieces for Blazers Edge about my life size Clyde the Glide poster and how my junior high friends thought It was weird.
I’ve maintained that Clyde is my favorite player of all time. There are some other guys I grew up watching that I will love forever, but Clyde was It for me. That being said, I have to admit, Dame is slowly taking over.
Dave: I can see that. Clyde was physically dominant and took over his era. Dame is super skilled, incredibly dedicated, and has been adept at taking advantage of his. I see Drexler like a Kraken, emerging from the sea to demolish a city. Lillard surfs that same wave, making everybody’s jaw drop with his ability, then he executes a perfect finish and the city just gives up and makes him the new king.
There’s room in my world for both of them to be the best, in their own way. Bill Walton too...the technician who could conduct a symphony out there. I guess I appreciate the diversity of the talent Portland has fielded.
Let’s pause on this for a minute, though. I hate the “nostalgia-versus-now” battle that usually dominates these discussions. You see it with LeBron James and M*chael J*rdan in the G.O.A.T. debate. Old guys claim there’s no way LeBron can come close to Mike. But dang, dude plays in the most-scouted, most technical, and most freakishly athletic era the NBA has ever seen and he’s made 10 NBA Finals. Bill Russell made and won more, but his opposition wasn’t near what MJ and LeBron faced. Michael was dominant, but he “only” made it to six Finals and he had MVP-level Scottie Pippen alongside. Plus LeBron stands alone with his size and athleticism. I’m not saying James is better than J*rdan, but anybody who says there’s no argument is just living in the past. I feel kind of the same way about Dame and Clyde, just not so strongly. (Clyde had much more team success.) Frankly, we’re privileged to have seen either!
Back on track...you’re so clearly upbeat, passionate, and optimistic in the best sense of the word. Not foolishly so at all. You just stand at the beating heart of everything Blazers and celebrate it. That’s super cool, but I’ve got to ask something. Just between you and me, has there been a player you don’t like, or something about the Blazers that has turned you off?
Dia: I truly hate the GOAT debates. There are just way too many factors. You can’t compare someone who played in the 80s with someone playing now, at least not straight across the board. There are too many variables. In my opinion it’s hard to even compare two players in the same decade simply because they’re playing with different teams, different coaches, different circumstances. I think it’s okay to enjoy the game and watch incredible players without having to name one the GOAT.
As far as my overly positive internet presence when it comes to our team, Here’s the deal— I absolutely get frustrated and discouraged at times, and being in the field of writing about sports, and specifically the Blazers, there are times I have to talk about the things we aren’t doing well, or the areas we need to change or improve. But when I started writing, I made It a goal to be cautious about what I said about the players as individuals. The truth is, I can do my job and be objective without trashing anyone. I can talk about the things we aren’t doing well, or the places we need to make changes without picking on people or being negative. I choose to take the high road because I’m very aware of the fact that these are real people we are talking about. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever criticize or point out the negatives. So to answer your question, yes there have been players I don’t like. I won’t tell you who they are, because I think every single player, down to the very worst, had redeeming qualities. I think the organization does a great job of knowing the teams culture and choosing players accordingly, or choosing players who will adjust. For that reason, even the players I haven’t completely loved have not turned me off to the team. I think when you love something as much as I love the Blazers, there just isn’t anything that can take that away.
Dave: What if they changed the logo to that fireball basketball thing they were talking about a few years ago?
Dia: Okay now that hits a nerve. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix It. Our logo is far from being broken. Don’t mess with my pinwheel. Honestly though, don’t you think we have the best branding in the NBA? Who in their right mind would mess with that??
Dave: I think we have the best provincial branding in the league. I think one or two teams would argue their logos and schemes are more marketable and/or interesting, but I don’t think any fan base is as attached specifically to their logo and uniforms as Blazers fans are to theirs.
So then, the ultimate question: who are your Top 5 favorites when it comes to the Blazers? Mine are Drexler, Walton, Lillard, Brandon Roy, and Arvydas Sabonis. I’d love to see any or all of them play again.
Dia: I’m a little bit of a jersey nerd. I’ve always been into fashion, and so of course, the closest thing to that in sports is something I’m into. There are some great jerseys in the league, like Miami Heat for example. I love their Miami Vice jerseys, but I don’t love all of the ones they wear. There is not one jersey in the history of the Blazers that I don’t love. Portland nailed It with the branding. I have an old throwback Clyde Drexler jersey and It might be my favorite.
Which leads me to your question. Obviously Clyde Drexler and Damian Lillard are in my top 5. I can’t believe you’re making me narrow my favorites down to only 3 more. 30+ years of fandom comes down to only 5 players? I love all the players you mentioned. Portland has seen some incredible talent. But I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don't always choose my favorites based on their talent and accolades alone. Rasheed Wallace has to be on this list, and Brian Grant. Grant was my favorite following Clyde’s exit from the team, and I have a lot of fond memories cheering for him as a kid. The 5th spot is going to Carmelo Anthony. No, Jusuf Nurkic. Actually, maybe Damon Stoudamire. No, I pick Gary Trent Jr. Final answer. I’ve been a fan of his from day one and he has been so much fun to watch. I’ve found myself really looking forward to watching him play. The truth is, I could make a long list of my favorites. I feel really fortunate to be a fan of a franchise with such a rich history of players. It’s truly difficult for me to choose.
How about you, dear readers? Who are your five favorite Blazers (for any reason) and how did your biases/favorites develop? Share in the comment section below!